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Thurmont officials agree to new contract
 with power company

Ingrid Mezo

After holding a closed session Tuesday to discuss the Town of Thurmont’s power supply agreement, Commissioners Bill Blakeslee, Wayne Hooper and Ron Terpko voted in favor of signing a five-year wholesale power supply agreement with Allegheny Energy Supply.

The cost for the services will be significantly higher than what the town is currently paying, Mayor Martin Burns said in a phone interview Wednesday. Burns said he could not disclose how much more the town will pay until all legal matters pertaining to the contract are complete.

Allegheny will begin supplying the town’s power when the current contract between the Town and Dominion Energy Marketing expires at the end of June 2006. The town board selected the company out of nine bidders, based on the advice of attorneys hired by the town to assist in negotiating a new energy contract.

Commissioner Glenn Muth abstained from voting, raising the ire of Mayor Martin Burns.

‘‘I take total offense to that, commissioner," Burns told Muth.

While Muth said he did not ‘‘necessarily have any reservations about any of the bidders involved," he said he felt unprepared to vote on the matter.

‘‘I found out last night that we were having a closed session to discuss this, and then vote on it afterward," Muth said. ‘‘It’s probably the largest contract the town has ever entered into, and I didn’t think that an hour in a closed session was enough time to understand and research all the issues that were involved, and I had zero time to prepare for it."

The town has been working on getting a new contract for the last six months, Burns said, adding that he had warned commissioners that the town might need to hold a special meeting. The commission had to vote on the matter Tuesday night to lock down the price, which could have gone higher if they waited until a later date.

‘‘If we were to vote against it we could not guarantee power for all our residents come July," Burns said.

‘‘In today’s world of volatile energy prices, this contract is the best solution for the town and we have done our best to plan for our future needs in a reliable manner," Burns said in a prepared statement he read during the town meeting Tuesday. ‘‘Our goal is to help build a strong community in the area we serve by providing reliable electricity to support local business, commerce and residents. Unfortunately, volatile market conditions left us little choice."

Allegheny Energy Supply owns and operates 20 power plants with a generating capacity of nearly 10,400 megawatts in the Mid-Atlantic region, Burns said.

The town will continue to own and maintain its own electrical distribution system, which provides service to more than 2,600 residential, commercial and industrial customers.

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